Beyond Riesling – German wine

Imbibe Editorial

Imbibe Editorial

28 October 2016

Germany isn't all about Riesling – nor Spätburgunder. There's a wondrous bag of lesser-known grape varieties that get creative juices flowing in Britain's hippest, edgiest kitchens…

Japanese: Sosharu

The somm: Masahito Suzuki

The dish: Grilled, smoked octopus, seaweed salad

The wine: Weingut Ziereisen Jaspis, Grauer Burgunder, Baden, £32.05, Howard Ripley

The grape: Grauburgunder

The wine: 'The basic character of this wine is its lively acidity, a touch of florality, white pepper and fig. It's also very rounded, easy to drink, dry and clean.' MS

The match: 'Smoking and marinating make this a rather strong-flavoured dish, served with nori and kombu and finished with pickled cucumber, daikon and okonomi pancake. I need acidity and umami from my wine. Both octopus and kombu are very "umami" so we need a kind of synchronised flavour: the wine delivers lots of umami on its own, but also cuts through the rich flavours.' MS

The German vibe: 'In Japanese food we do not use a lot of oil. This together with the cleanliness of German wines makes a great combination. I’m also thinking of putting on Gutedel for its clean, stony and long flavours, to match with one of our signature dishes: seabream sashimi on shichimi [Japanese seven-spice mix] crispy potato. Wine should never dominate food – harmony is all.' MS

British: Pidgin (This restaurant won its first Michelin star in October)

The co-owner & somm: James Ramsden

The dish: Prawn, crispy pig skin, corn husk mayonnaise and marigold leaves

The wine: Weingut Emil Bauer & Söhne, Scheu... Aber Geil! Scheurebe, Pfalz, £9.35, Red Squirrel Wine

The grape: Scheurebe

The wine: 'We thought of choosing something funky and German to go with something funky and prawn-like. Scheurebe is an unusual grape variety and we're in a place where people are really keen to try things they never had before.' JR

The match: 'The wine has got this nice spritz and apple-ness but also some weight to it that stands up to the richness of the prawn. You have aromatics on the nose but a light palate and great acidity. It ticks all the boxes for us. It’s a great all-rounder.'JR

The German vibe: 'We love German wines here. German acidity opens up your palate and makes your mouth water. Pairing food and wine is not an exact science and we'd rather lead our guests to something that works – but is also new and that they've never had before.' JR

Thai: Som Saa

The somm: Christina Schneider

The dish: Pla yang – coconut- and pandanus-smoked trout with chilli relish and herbs

The wine: Weingut Friedrich Altenkirch, Cuvée 'Boogie', Rheingau, £7.85, OW Loeb

The grapes: Riesling, Scheurebe, Rivaner, Sauvignon Blanc

The wine: 'It's a super-light, zesty, wine, an aromatic blend of Riesling, Scheurebe, Rivaner and Sauvignon Blanc. It's got a rather nice kick. There are lychees, a bit of peach, honey and yellow flowers with loads of citrus and apple, that really zingy stuff. It’s a total crowd-pleaser and very accessible.' CS

The match: 'There is a lot of lime going on in Thai food, a lot of chilli, garlic and herbs. The wine has freshness and is delicate – just like the dish which is rather subtle compared to the rest of the menu. It sounds big but it's also light. Trout's a rather fatty fish, smoked with coconut and pandanus, and glazed with pork fat, so you need something that cuts through: something fresh, something crisp. This wine is all these things.' CS

The German vibe: 'You can always find one wine that goes with one dish but we have a sharing philosophy. You have five different dishes on the table at the same time, all their different flavours and directions. Think really rich curries with coconut, think lots of lime. Then there is the texture: curries are creamy, salads are zingy and fresh. Acidity is very important here. German wines have a lightness to them, they are subtle, almost fragile, vivacious and they dance on your tongue. The acidity and transparency and the slightly lower alcohol that German wines bring makes them just so versatile and elegant.' CS

Pan-Mediterranean: Bellita

The co-owner & somm: Kate Hawkings

The dish: Salt cod baked with tomatoes and thyme

The wine: Weingut Hans Wirsching, Iphöfer Silvaner Kabinett, Franken, £11.60, Wine Barn

The grape: Silvaner

The wine: 'It's got cool-climate elegance that still has a bit of richness. It's dry, fresh and has this lovely length.' KH

The match: 'There's also something really herbal about the wine that goes so well with the thyme flavours. It’s very clean with just a little bit of weight, a bit of roundness that stands up well to the dish.' KH

The German vibe: 'There are exciting young winemakers and exciting grapes in Germany – and my customers certainly are delighted with this wine. The really good German wines have a certain elegance.' KH



Get it On

Discover Germany’s other grapes at the Get it On Tasting
When: 11am-5pm, Tuesday 8 November
Where: Darren Baker Gallery, 81 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 4PP
Email or call 020 7759 7405 to RSVP

Related content


To acidity and beyond: Tasting Riesling

Beloved by sommeliers but often overlooked by customers, Does German Riesling live up to the hype? Clinton Cawood joins a tasting panel of somms on a

News |  Wine

31 days of German Riesling announces Restaurant of the Year

With 225 participants including bars, restaurants, wine specialists and retailers, this year's 31 Days of German Riesling campaign took place in over

News |  Wine

EatDrinkSleep wins 31 Days of German Riesling Restaurant of the Year

Nothing says summer like a crisp white wine, particularly a German Riesling, and this summer over 250 restaurants, bars, and importers united for a su

News |  Wine

Feel the Bern: Debunking German wine clichés, part I

In this five-part series, Chris Losh debunks worn-out clichés about German wine.